NC State is one of the best stories in NCAA basketball history. This team had one of the most improbable runs in NCAA Tournament history. They weren’t the most talented team in the world, but they were the most determined and relentless team that season. The 30 for 30 documentary, Survive and Advance depicts all the moments of that 1982-1983 team.
NC State head coach Jim Valvano set the tone from Day One when he told the team that his dream is to win the National Championship and cut down the net. The more the players heard it, the more they believed it and bought in. Jim Valvano’s father gave him more confidence about winning the national title. He told his son that he would be there when he won it.
During the first three years of Valvano’s tenure with NC State, a lot of losing and early tournaments exists.
NC State had players like Dereck Whittenberg and Sidney Lowe, who were entering their fourth year with NC State, and they wanted to go out as champions. NC State dealt with adversity, especially when Dereck went down with a broken right foot. He was supposed to miss the remainder of the season, but god was on his side, and he could compete. NC State had ten losses during the 1983 season. But coach Valvano told the team they needed to take one game at a time: Survive and Advance. NC State needed to win the ACC Tournament to enter the NCAA Tournament.
NC State would defeat Wake Forest, North Carolina, and Virginia to win the ACC Tournament. NC State defeats North Carolina was massive because they were a great team during the 1980s led by a well-coached Dean Smith.
NC State beat good teams in tight games against Pepperdine, Virginia, UNLV, and more. In the national championship game, they went up against Houston, also known as the “Phi Slama Jama.”
NC State knew they were going up against a really good led by two future hall of Famers: Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. Fast forward to the game’s last possession; both teams were tied 52-52. Dereck Whittenberg missed it from 35 feet but Lorenzo Charles caught the ball and scored the winning basket at the buzzer. NC State beats Houston, winning 54-52. Houston almost stole the ball twice during that possession.
Lorenze Charles will forever be remembered for this unforgettable moment in NCAA history. Unfortunately and sadly, Charles died in a bus accident on June 27, 2011. He was 47 years old. Charles’s death fueled Dereck to reach out to his teammates to reunite. The NC State team reunited the following year and reminisced their Cinderella 1983 story.